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halfpint
10-02-2014, 09:53 PM
I recently found this blog taughtbyfinland.com (sorry, don't know how to embed a link). It is written by an American teacher who moved to Finland with his family. I am finding it fascinating, and very affirming of the things I've been doing/thinking with homeschooling.

There are so many things that they do in the public schools in Finland that are not done in PS here, but ARE advocated by many homeschoolers! Things like not starting formal instruction until age 7, having only 3 hours of instruction for younger kids, lots of breaks during the day, no standardized tests, etc.

Makes me feel like not a weirdo, but that I'm just using the curriculum of one of the best school systems in the world!

alexsmom
10-03-2014, 12:46 AM
Taught by Finland - Home (http://www.taughtbyfinland.com)

Theres the link ;)

aspiecat
10-03-2014, 09:37 AM
There's a reason why Finland has the best education system in the world.

alexsmom
10-03-2014, 09:51 AM
It seems they have their priorities right in putting the childrens interests first. And letting the teachers do their jobs instead of trying to micromanage or let politicians decide curriculum.
I wonder what public schools would be like here if werent hindered in doing their jobs, and the focus on schools was on the kids. My neigborhood elementary is so proud of its api scores they have it permanently on the sign out front. And they keep 37-38 kids in each class (starting in kindergarten) so that kids from poorer areas of the district can not sneak in.
There seems to be some basic disconnect where the school district doesnt realise its there to help the kids. :-/

alexsmom
10-03-2014, 01:00 PM
Does anyone else find the irony in saying they have a fabulous educational system.... based on.... standardized testing results?

I also wonder about readiness for *formal education* like learning to read. Is reading something just assumed that families do on their own? I think lots of kids are ready to read before 7, so are they being held back if its not introduced to them?

aspiecat
10-03-2014, 01:19 PM
From what I understand, most schools don't hold kids back if they are ready ahead of time in some area. It's more a case of not making academic demands on kids while they're very young. The various articles I've read on the Finnish education system have pointed towards kids being the leaders of their education, and if that means some are "early starters", then that is encouraged.

bcnlvr
10-03-2014, 01:55 PM
Maria Miller, author of Math Mammoth, is from Finland. I knew I liked that program! ;)

Marmalade
10-03-2014, 03:48 PM
I can't remember where I came across an article about the school system in Finland so I can't link to it here ~ but I remember one point that the article made was that the entire structure had to be completely knocked down and rebuilt a couple of decades ago. At first it was hard, of course, but as years went on it became much better and eventually turned into the system they have today.

So~yes, it can be done. It probably won't be done. Could you imagine not only our government butting out of school business but parents (and possibly teachers) accepting starting at square one? An entire nation learning to "de-school"? That would be a sight.

I look forward to reading this blog. I do agree- their way of teaching has been very affirmitive!

pdpele
10-03-2014, 09:17 PM
Thanks for sharing - that is an interesting blog!

Jen Law
10-13-2014, 07:25 PM
Passi Sahlberg is a fantastic sales person for the finnish education system (any article on the topic will quote him) but when I first met him he asked me if I knew what a Glasgow kiss was when he found out I was Scottish... so I have trouble thinking of him as anything other than a complete dick.

Any way, he argues that the success of the Finnish education system lies in the high level of qualification of teaches, the autonomy that teachers have in their work and the lack of testing that students are subjected to. While I agree with that these are fantastic characteristics of an education system, I disagree that they are characteristics of the Finnish education system.

Tanaqui
10-14-2014, 11:47 AM
I can't remember where I came across an article about the school system in Finland so I can't link to it here ~ but I remember one point that the article made was that the entire structure had to be completely knocked down and rebuilt a couple of decades ago. At first it was hard, of course, but as years went on it became much better and eventually turned into the system they have today.

Yes, and this part is important: As their goal, they focused not on making some schools THE BEST, but on using their resources fairly and making all schools more or less equal in quality.

rleome
11-08-2014, 07:58 PM
So I read a bit about their standards and whatnot on their govt educational website- The Finnish National Board of Education - Front page (http://www.oph.fi/english) Certainly interesting. Some things I agree wholeheartedly- like things that have been pointed out in this thread and on that blog (skimming anyway). Some things I could do w/o. But meh, that's everything right? And homeschooling personalization ftw.

I do like that their teachers are treated w/ a bit more prestige and respect. We already know that when workers are treated with respect and are given the opportunity to be heard w/o negative supervisory practices we have better output and productivity. Add in the education sure. Why not.

Overhere
12-12-2014, 09:11 AM
Does anyone else find the irony in saying they have a fabulous educational system.... based on.... standardized testing results?

I also wonder about readiness for *formal education* like learning to read. Is reading something just assumed that families do on their own? I think lots of kids are ready to read before 7, so are they being held back if its not introduced to them?


The idea that Finnish kids only start school at age 7 is a myth.

Finnish kids start what they call "school" ("koulu") at age 7...but nearly all start the full-time enriched nursery/kindergarten they call "päiväkoti" ("day-home") at age 2 or 3. By the time Finnish kids start "school", they've actually been in school for 4-5 years.

firefly77
12-12-2014, 09:52 AM
The idea that Finnish kids only start school at age 7 is a myth.

Finnish kids start what they call "school" ("koulu") at age 7...but nearly all start the full-time enriched nursery/kindergarten they call "päiväkoti" ("day-home") at age 2 or 3. By the time Finnish kids start "school", they've actually been in school for 4-5 years.

This is a good point. It's not as though Finnish kids are at home with their parents until they are 7. But I do think that what they are doing during that time away from home matters. To me, there is a distinction between being in an early-childhood environment that focuses on play, exploration, and movement and expecting five-year-olds to spend most of a full day sitting and working on so-called academic skills.

To me, what sets the Finnish system apart is that they (at least according to what I've read - I'm admittedly no expert on Finland) successfully lessened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. If parents in the US were supported more during the pre-natal months, had paid leave and equal access to quality health care, child care, and schools I'd bet their children would perform better on whatever test scores are currently deemed to measure academic competence and career readiness.

I read somewhere (I know that's vague, but I don't have the link handy) that US PISA scores aren't really low if you separate economic classes. Middle and upper class American kids perform on par with other nations that have "good" educational systems. It's students that come from low-SES families that tend to score lower (of course there are outliers). After teaching in an urban school system for a decade, I have to say that my own observations support this assertion. The playing field needs to be leveled.

Of course, all the other stuff like paying teachers more (or at least affording them prestige) and allowing real time for them to collaborate matters, but to me until there is more equal access to resources in the US nothing will change no matter how many standardized tests Pearson tries to shove down Americans' throats.

Overhere
12-12-2014, 10:28 AM
This is a good point. It's not as though Finnish kids are at home with their parents until they are 7. But I do think that what they are doing during that time away from home matters.


Päiväkoti for the older kids is basically school - Finnish kids get more academic content before age 7 then most American kids do. It's just not accurate to say that Finnish kids start at 7 on academics - really they start everything but second languages before then.

As for teacher respect and prestige, you have to remember that teachers are (in general) much higher achievers in Finland than in the US. Getting into the equivalent of an education major there is very, very hard, and all teachers complete an M.Ed. with lots of subject training. One of the hardest things to train to be in Finland is a "mother-language" (Finnish or Swedish) or English teacher - you really have to be an academic superstar. There are lots of other professionals running around in Finland who tried and failed to become teachers.

firefly77
12-12-2014, 12:55 PM
I would love to observe early childhood education in Finland - I would just love to see what they do (future field trip?)! I didn't mean to suggest that kids there weren't (or shouldn't) be doing academic stuff. Kids are such natural learners that it seems impossible that a kid could make it to 7 without demanding to learn academic stuff.

I have read about how difficult it is to become a teacher in Finland and I think it's fantastic. M.Ed. programs here are of course not the rule and they vary so much in rigor and intensity. Some are really demanding while others seem to test only your willingness to take on student debt. I love the image of teacher-school dropouts settling for being lawyers or bankers :).

BatDad
12-12-2014, 02:59 PM
That image of teachers has a lot to do with the environment. I remember I had a student once ask me why I bothered teaching, since I was smart enough to do so many other things.

Also, most of my coworkers were not even trained in education, since Florida only requires that you have a bachelor's in any field, and pass the subject area exam. The dismal quality of education in my area is what led me to homeschool.

alexsmom
12-12-2014, 04:40 PM
Also, most of my coworkers were not even trained in education, since Florida only requires that you have a bachelor's in any field, and pass the subject area exam. The dismal quality of education in my area is what led me to homeschool.

Ive seen here that there are teachers, spouses of teachers, and past teachers who homeschool their kids. I think people with an education in how to educate / teach would give a great advantage and insight in teaching our own. And how do teachers feel about homeschooling in general? For me as well, homeschooling was partly from lack of confidence in the school system. How do professional teachers reconcile not trusting their kids to the system they work in? I hope that doesnt sound accusatory.

In my toddlers speech therapy, Im learning lots of techniques and ways to play more productively. (Ugg I dont want to pretend to eat bread all noisily like a pig! So not in my comfort zone or how I would act in real life! But I can see it made the baby more engaged in the activity.) I wish the community college gave classes in these sorts of things. And elementary education, minus the classroom management aspects. I may be an expert on my kid, but Im certainly no expert at teaching academics to him. I taught DS to write using HWT - maybe if i had background in education I wouldve known better about the difference between that style and the *ball and stick* method used by Kumon workbooks. Things like that.

firefly77
12-12-2014, 05:40 PM
Ive seen here that there are teachers, spouses of teachers, and past teachers who homeschool their kids. I think people with an education in how to educate / teach would give a great advantage and insight in teaching our own. And how do teachers feel about homeschooling in general? For me as well, homeschooling was partly from lack of confidence in the school system. How do professional teachers reconcile not trusting their kids to the system they work in? I hope that doesnt sound accusatory.


It doesn't sound accusatory, or at least it doesn't to me. There is a fair amount of guilt that goes along with my decision to homeschool. I'm reasonably confident that it's the best thing for my kids right now, but not sure it's the best thing for education in general (I absolutely do not mean that to sound big-headed - my kids can be major pains). Have you read any of the Dana Goldstein/Astra Taylor debate? It really resonated with me (Homeschooling and unschooling among liberals and progressives. (http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/homeschooling_and_unschooling_among_liberals_and_p rogressives_.html), and Astra Taylor's rebuttal, "Learning In Freedom"). I can see both sides but ultimately side more with Taylor I suppose. The bottom line is that parents want the best for their kids, whether that means living in a "good" school district, putting their kids in private school, or doing school at home. What I would like to see is an equally funded school system in which every child gets the same amount of education dollars allocated to them regardless of their zip code. I can't afford a fancy school and our local schools are strangled by testing and other woes, so what I can do is live on a tiny income and try it out at home. But, yeah, there's guilt.

Do I feel better-equipped to teach my kids at home because of my background? I don't know. I know there are so many people on this site who have been fountains of knowledge about homeschooling who have never been teachers in a school.

I've been nervous to tell my teacher friends about our decision to homeschool, but as I "come out" I'm amazed at how many of them (and especially the ones who are already parents) are just so incredibly supportive, at least to my face!

BatDad
12-12-2014, 05:45 PM
Well, I left the public schools three years ago. That is how I reconcile the trust issue :D Though, I can tell you, in my area, teachers did not have a favorable image of homeschooling. I will admit that I myself had a poor, but uneducated opinion at one time. The only time we teachers really encountered homeschoolers was during our annual state testing or the occasional child that came to us because "mom needed a break." The kids were lazy, academically behind the other students, and unhygienic. So, our image was based on a very small sample, and obviously opinions may be different in other areas. It was not until I started meeting with homeschool groups that I found kids who were exemplary role models for homeschoolers, I read a few books, and my eyes opened.

I also knew teachers who were anti-homeschooling, but either used private schools or our special privilege to place our own children in the district's better schools. Yes, I had opinions regarding that.

ejsmom
12-12-2014, 05:51 PM
Alexmom, my DH has a teaching degree. He taught one semester (20 years ago) and never went back. He absolutely could not stomach the environment in our local public schools, for a number of reasons, and even then said he would never, ever want to send any future kids to public school. Homeschooling wasn't his radar back then, but he figured if he ever had kids he would send them to private school.

For one thing, DH paid for his college education by joining the military and then working full time while in college. The thing that bothered him the most was that many of the teachers he was teaching with had zero "real world" experience and no clue what life is like outside a school system. He felt that was a huge disadvantage to the kids, especially because he taught in an urban school district, and most of those kids were not going on to college. The kids NEEDED to be prepared with skills that translated to them being employable and able to handle adult life - money management, job interview techniques, getting the kids interested in something that would get them a start in life - a trade, a certificate program after high school that could provide a start in life. Many of the kids he taught were parents already. He felt frustrated telling a 15 year old boy with three babies that it was really important for him to know the dates of the civil war, and grade him on that.

He also was frustrated with some of the other teachers who grew up in upper middle class, mostly white neighborhoods, who went on to a parent funded college education, and then they straight to middle or high school to teach, without ever going out and working a job in the private sector. The teachers perhaps knew their subject well, but had no idea what the kids needed to be successful in a job or to go to trade school.

My mother worked in the administration department of our state/county education system and found the same thing. She and my dad had previously owned a business. For example, (in our state anyway), there is so much waste - of time and money. I know it drove her crazy that they would waste a day having a meeting - to plan a meeting! The state spent a lot money, and wasted a lot of time, on frequent "feel good" motivational speakers. The offices were kept beautifully decorated, too. My mom was very supportive of our homeschooling, from the beginning. She was thrilled that we were not going to "subject" DS to the "disaster" of our public schools. I have a friend who left teaching when she started having children and she absolutely will not send her kids to PS.

In most of the business world, time is money. Customer service and competence matter to the bottom line. In our schools (again, in my area), that is not how things are run. The teachers who have gone right from college back to a public school environment to teach and never had a job outside that system do not understand those facts and don't prepare their students with that in mind. The kids are never prepared to be quality employees. They are being funneled into remembering just enough to pass a test or class, and not to actually be engaged, to learn, achieve, contribute. I think extracurricular activities and part time jobs often help kids with that. Actually, those values should be instilled at home, but I see very little of that happening in my own middle class neighborhood, and I know there was even less in the city where DH taught.

Also, we found that within 2-3 years of starting homeschooling, I knew far more about educational methods, ideas, theories, and approaches, than DH ever learned. I did read a lot about that, though, and we had a kid with some special challenges, so I was probably researching more than the typical homeschool parent would have - because I had to.

DH moved on to a a new (and more lucrative) career long ago, and has never looked back. I'd be interested to hear the responses from other teachers/former teachers who homeschool.

firefly77
12-12-2014, 05:54 PM
Well, I left the public schools three years ago. That is how I reconcile the trust issue :D

Good point - I'm a former employee, too.

BatDad
12-12-2014, 06:08 PM
Ejsmom - I had a problem with the things you mentioned as well. In my perfect society, teachers would earn certification after being in the "real world." I myself had a b.a., then chose to get a second b.a. in education after I had worked in my field of archeology for a few years. Even at that point I look back now and realize I was not the best teacher I could have been due to my lack of experiences.